A great activity for everyone


A thrilling game of secrecy and guessing, where kids put their observational skills to the test!

By Jon Zajac

What is Seven-Up?

Seven-Up is a classic icebreaker game that is both fun and engaging for kids aged 6-12. The purpose of the activity is to encourage interaction between students while promoting critical thinking skills. During the game, seven players are chosen to be “It” and secretly select seven other students by gently pushing their thumbs down as they roam around the room in the dark. The selected students then try to guess who chose them when the lights come back on. If they guess correctly, they take the place of the person who picked them. This game is a great way to encourage communication and build connections between students in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

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Rules for Seven-Up

  1. Seven students are chosen to be “It” and stand at the front of the classroom.
  2. The remaining students close their eyes, put their heads down, and make a fist with one hand, except for an upwards-pointing thumb.
  3. The seven standing students roam around the room, each touching one person’s thumb.
  4. The person that was touched puts his or her thumb down.
  5. When the seven students are done choosing, they return to the front of the room and the lights go back on.
  6. All students open their eyes and raise their heads.
  7. The seven students whose thumbs had been touched stand up and take turns guessing who their toucher was.
  8. If a student guesses correctly, they replace the toucher at the front of the room.
  9. If a toucher managed to not get picked by the student he touched, the toucher stays in the game for another round.

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Materials needed for Seven-Up

  • Classroom or open space: Seven-Up can be played in any room with enough space for all players to move around. An open space is ideal so that players can easily walk around without bumping into furniture.
  • A group of 20 or more people: The game requires at least seven players to be “It” and the rest as participants. It’s best to have a larger group to make the game more exciting and unpredictable.
  • Good lighting: Proper lighting is essential for the game, especially when the participants need to close their eyes and put their heads down. A well-lit room ensures that everyone can see what’s happening clearly.
  • Optional: Timer (for longer games): If you want to limit the duration of each round or the entire game, using a timer can help keep things moving along.

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Setting up for Seven-Up

To set up for the Seven-Up icebreaker activity, you will need to ensure that there is enough space in the room for seven students to roam around and approach other students without disturbance. Arrange the seating in such a way that students can easily put their heads down and raise them when required.

Follow these setup steps:

  1. Choose a room with adequate space for movement.
  2. Set up chairs or desks in rows or clusters, leaving enough room for students to move around.
  3. Ensure there is a clear area at the front of the room for the seven selected students to stand when announcing “Heads up, seven up!”
  4. Decide on a signal to indicate the start and end of the game, such as turning lights off and on or using a timer.
  5. Make sure students understand the rules before starting the game.

Remember, no materials are required for this icebreaker activity, only proper setup and clear instructions.

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How to play Seven-Up

  1. Choose Seven Players: I start by selecting seven students to be the “It” players. These kids will roam around the room and choose other players.

  2. Have the Remaining Players Close Their Eyes: Once the seven “It” players are chosen, I instruct the remaining players to close their eyes and put their heads down on their desks. They should also make a fist with one hand and stick their thumb upwards.

  3. Let the Seven Players Choose: The seven “It” players then move around the room, each touching one person’s thumb. I remind them not to choose the same player twice. When they are done choosing, they return to the front of the room and shout, “Heads up, seven up!”

  4. Open Eyes and Guess: The remaining players open their eyes and raise their heads. Those who had their thumbs touched stand up and try to guess who their toucher was. If they guess correctly, they replace the toucher at the front of the room for the next round.

  5. Repeat: I repeat the process until all students have had a turn as a “It” player or until time runs out. This game is an excellent icebreaker for kids and helps them develop their observational skills, memory, and deductive reasoning.

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Benefits of Seven-Up

  • Encourages Quietness and Focus: Seven-Up is a game that requires kids to be quiet and focus on their own thumbs while also paying attention to their surroundings when the lights are on. This can help improve their concentration and listening skills.
  • Promotes Social Interaction: The game encourages students to move around and interact with each other, helping them build relationships and develop social skills.
  • Boosts Memory and Recall Abilities: By trying to guess who touched their thumb, students are practicing their memory recall and cognitive abilities. This can help improve their overall academic performance.
  • Provides a Fun Break from Regular Activities: Seven-Up is an enjoyable game that can provide a fun break from regular classroom activities. It can also be used as an icebreaker to help new students feel more comfortable in a group setting.
  • Encourages Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: By trying to guess who touched their thumb, students are practicing their critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities. They must consider different clues and make deductions based on the information available to them.

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Skills built with Seven-Up

  • Social Awareness: By playing Seven-Up, kids learn to be mindful of their classmates’ presence in the room as they move around to choose their thumbs. This helps them develop a better understanding of personal space and consideration for others.
  • Deductive Reasoning: When students who have had their thumbs touched must guess who their toucher was, they need to use deductive reasoning based on clues and observations. This skill is essential in making informed decisions and solving problems.
  • Memory Recall: Players need to remember who they touched during the game, which helps improve their short-term memory. This skill is vital for learning and academic success.
  • Patience and Self-Control: Seven-Up requires patience as students must wait for their turn to guess and self-control while others are making their guesses. These skills contribute to emotional intelligence and can help reduce impulsive behavior.
  • Public Speaking and Confidence: When standing up to make a guess, players practice public speaking by addressing the group. Doing this repeatedly helps build confidence in expressing themselves in front of others.
  • Non-Verbal Communication: The game involves non-verbal communication as students use only their thumbs for interaction. Recognizing and interpreting these subtle cues can help kids better understand and respond to social situations.
  • Teamwork and Cooperation: Although Seven-Up is not a traditional team game, it fosters a sense of community by having all students participate in the activity together, promoting inclusiveness and collaboration.

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Why I like Seven-Up

As an educator and a parent, I appreciate the Seven-Up icebreaker for its simplicity, inclusivity, and ability to engage children in quiet, yet fun activity. Here are a few reasons why I like this game:

  1. Easy to organize: With no materials required and simple rules, Seven-Up is an ideal game for impromptu play or large group gatherings. Just select seven players, darken the room, and let the fun begin!
  2. Inclusive of various age groups: The recommended age range of 6-12 years indicates that this game can be enjoyed by a wide array of children, making it suitable for mixed-age events or classrooms.
  3. Encourages observation skills: By having students guess who touched their thumb, Seven-Up promotes attentiveness and the development of deductive reasoning skills.
  4. Quiet yet engaging: In contrast to many high-energy icebreakers, Seven-Up offers a more low-key alternative that still captivates children’s attention and encourages participation.
  5. Promotes respectful interaction: The game’s rules foster polite behavior as students quietly move around the room, touching thumbs without speaking or disrupting others.
  6. Allows for strategic thinking: By encouraging players to avoid being chosen twice, Seven-Up incorporates a level of strategy that can challenge and entertain kids.
  7. Fosters a sense of community: As students replace their touchers in the front of the room, they feel more connected with one another, contributing to a positive group dynamic.

Overall, I find Seven-Up to be an excellent icebreaker for its simplicity, inclusivity, and promotion of observation skills, quiet engagement, respectful interaction, strategic thinking, and community building.

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Tips for making Seven-Up more inclusive

  • Tip: Choose “It” students in a diverse way Make sure to choose the seven students who will be “It” in a way that represents the diversity of the group. This can help ensure that everyone feels included and represented in the game.
  • Tip: Offer alternatives for sensory sensitivities Some children may have sensory sensitivities to certain aspects of the game, such as having the lights turned off or being touched on the hand. Consider offering alternatives, such as using a soft object to tap instead of touching, or keeping the lights dimmed rather than turned off completely.
  • Tip: Encourage respectful guessing Make sure to remind students to be respectful and considerate when guessing who their toucher was. Encouraging positive language and tone can help create a welcoming atmosphere for all players.
  • Tip: Use gender-neutral language Try to use gender-neutral language when describing the rules of the game, such as “the person that was touched” instead of “he or she.” This can help make the game more inclusive for all students, regardless of their gender identity.
  • Tip: Offer modifications for mobility needs If any students have mobility needs, consider offering modifications to the game, such as allowing them to remain seated while being chosen or guessing. This can help ensure that everyone can participate and enjoy the game, regardless of their physical abilities.

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Reflection questions for Seven-Up

  1. Question: How did you feel when you were chosen to be one of the “It” players? This question can help participants reflect on their emotions and reactions when given a position of responsibility or leadership in a group setting.
  2. Question: What strategies did you use to choose your classmates during the game? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage participants to think about decision-making processes, fairness, and potential biases they might have had while selecting their peers.
  3. Question: How challenging was it for you to guess who touched your thumb? Why? This question can help participants consider how well they know their classmates and the importance of non-verbal cues in communication.
  4. Question: Did anyone feel left out or unnoticed during the game? If so, why? Asking this question fosters empathy and inclusivity among participants by encouraging them to reflect on others’ feelings and experiences.
  5. Question: How did you feel when you successfully guessed your secret toucher? This question can help participants recognize their satisfaction in solving a problem or making an accurate prediction based on evidence.
  6. Question: What do you think would happen if the “It” players were not allowed to stay anonymous during the guessing phase? By asking this question, facilitators can encourage participants to consider privacy, consent, and social dynamics in group activities.
  7. Question: How could we adapt Seven-Up to be more inclusive for larger or smaller groups? This question encourages participants to think critically about game design, problem-solving, and adapting activities for diverse settings.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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